February 25, 2017

"Law professors seek to have Kellyanne Conway disbarred for bringing 'shame upon the legal profession.'"

"Here’s the actual letter, complete with the names of the law professors who have disgraced themselves. But if you want to establish a rule like this for all lawyers in the public eye, well, enjoy it. Sauce for the goose, and all that."

"Perez came very close to winning DNC chair on the first ballot. There were 427 votes cast, making the threshold for victory 214.5 votes."

"Perez received 213.5 votes. Ellison got 200. The crowd is stunned. A second round of balloting is about to get underway...."

Commenter — without realizing it — takes my side in what has been a 2-day debate between me and Meade.

In the comments to yesterday's post about "Captain Fantastic," robother said:
I read the end of the movie as pure fantasy in his head after leaving Albuquerque. If not, The Man is far more benign and forgiving than Chomsky, Mortenson's character or even I imagine.
Thank you! And spoiler alert for those who haven't seen the movie. (You can stream it from Amazon, here. Please do that first, then join this discussion.)

"There was a moment, sometime between 2008 and 2010, when a woman’s insides — her exploits, her eating habits, her feelings, her sex life — became a lucrative internet product."

"Women, of course, have been writing about such things for years, including on the internet, but commodifying that writing had proven fraught. Marketing the entirety of the self through a personal blog — like Heather Armstrong’s Dooce, or Emily Gould’s iteration of Gawker — led to writer burnout and reader disillusionment. A better, more sustainable way to commodify the self was to do so piecemeal. For female authors, this meant writing personal essays on the most sensational slivers of their lives. For websites, this meant paying those authors — hundreds of them, the supply was nearly unlimited — somewhere between $0 and $100 for each sliver. I know about this economy because, for about four years, I was part of it...."

So begins "Tales From the Personal Essay Industrial Complex" by Anne Helen Petersen (a NYT book review, covering "How to Murder Your Life" by Cat Marnell and "All the Lives I Want/Essays About My Best Friends Who Happen to Be Famous Strangers" by Alana Massey).

Word that I'm glad to see doesn't appear in this article: Feminism.

Why I'm glad: I don't see how this sort of self-exploitation by young women counts as feminism.

ADDED: "I am myself the matter of my book. You would be unreasonable to spend your leisure on so frivolous and vain a subject."

The disruption of people who won't accept disruption: Those terrible "legacy customers."

At WaPo, Larry Downes, co-author of "Big Bang Disruption," takes aim at people who "who simply refuse to migrate to disruptive innovations even after they’ve become both better and cheaper, and even after almost everyone else has made the shift."
[T]he real holdup is that non-adopters — mostly older, rural and less-educated — just aren’t interested in Internet access, at any price.... [T]he resisters are wrong....

[N]on-adopters ultimately cost more to serve. Printing information is increasingly a waste of scarce resources as digital alternatives continue to get better and cheaper. And all of us pay for the waste...

To overcome the inertia of legacy customers, it may be appropriate for governments to step in....

[S]ome technology dinosaurs need help being euthanized. Here, regulators can serve as a catalyst, providing the final nudge for legacy customers. Once it was clear that smart LEDs would become better and cheaper than inefficient incandescent lightbulbs, for example, governments around the world began passing laws banning production of the older technology.

And while things got a little messy at the end, in 2009 Congress succeeded in turning off analog TV, switching the few remaining holdouts over to digital. To ensure no one had to go without “Let’s Make a Deal,” lower-income families were given converter boxes for older tube TVs.
What about hipsters who insist on old-fashioned turntables and vinyl record albums? How come they're not in the article? I don't have to answer the question. To ask it is to have the answer jump off the page: older, rural, less-educated, Let’s Make a Deal....

And by the way, what's newer is not necessarily better. Consider: "The TV Is Hard to Hear... Flat-screen TVs, inconsistent streaming boxes and cinematic series have many asking, ‘What did they say?’"

IN THE COMMENTS: rehajm said: "Isn't the WaPoasaurus calling for its own death here?"

"Video captures mouse walking on baby’s crib in Kushner-owned Brooklyn home."

But why is the mouse there? I'm reading all the way to the end of that Daily News article:
Some in the building said video and the complaints stemmed from a rent dispute.

“This is a small group of people who have been here from the beginning and have stopped paying rent,” one resident said. “They haven’t paid rent in about eight months and they don’t want to pay.”

But others say they have complained about many issues, to no avail.

“There have been vermin, and the mouse video is crazy,” said another tenant. “We’re all paying about $4,000 a month — that’s a great deal of money to put up with all of this.”

When we see video, what do we know?

Tricking CPAC Trumpers to wave the Russian flag — What are the lessons?

Social media had great fun with something that happened yesterday at CPAC:
Jason Charter, 22, and Ryan Clayton, 36, passed out roughly 1,000 red, white, and blue flags, each bearing a gold-emblazoned “TRUMP” in the center, to an auditorium full of attendees waiting for President Trump to address the conference. Audience members waved the pennants—and took pictures with them—until CPAC staffers realized the trick: They were Russian flags.
What are the lessons?

1. There are lots of people out there who are not on your side. Withhold your trust until you know who you're dealing with. There are endless scams. Don't be a soft touch.

2. Young guys and their pranks lighten the grind of politics. It was fun back in the 60s when Yippies found cool ways to put across what were weighty political opinions, and it's fun now. We need our clowns, including the pranksters who figure out ways to offload the clownery onto others.

3. Don't pass on messages that others have handed you. Think of your own ideas. Let the words of your mouth and the gestures of your body come in a form shaped by your mind. Be original. Be yourself. Have a self that's worth being.

February 24, 2017

"Reporters from The Times, CNN and Politico were not allowed to enter the West Wing office of the press secretary, Sean M. Spicer, for the scheduled briefing."

"Aides to Mr. Spicer allowed in reporters from only a handpicked group of news organizations that, the White House said, had been previously confirmed to attend."
Organizations allowed in included Breitbart News, the One America News Network and The Washington Times, all with conservative leanings. Journalists from ABC, CBS, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and Fox News also attended....

“Nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in our long history of covering multiple administrations of different parties,” Dean Baquet, the executive editor of The Times, said in a statement. “We strongly protest the exclusion of The New York Times and the other news organizations. Free media access to a transparent government is obviously of crucial national interest.”
How bad is this? Pick the closest to your opinion:

pollcode.com free polls

UPDATE: The sentence quoted in the post title later included the names of more news organizations. I'm cutting and pasting this at 7:45 CT on February 25th: "Reporters from The Times, BuzzFeed News, CNN, The Los Angeles Times, Politico, the BBC and The Huffington Post were among those shut out of the briefing." There's no notation at the article that it was updated, but the sentence just quoted is the only sentence in the article with the word "Politico" in it, so clearly the article was updated.

Here are the results on the poll (possibly skewed by my emphasis on the apparently false fact that only 3 organizations were excluded):

"Well @realDonaldTrump, from one Republican to another, this is a disaster. You made a promise to protect the LGBTQ community. Call me."

"What kind of a crazy person celebrates Noam Chomsky's birthday like it's some kind of official holiday?"

Just one of the many great scenes in "Captain Fantastic," which Meade and I watched on streaming video last night. I give it the Althouse seal of approval. You can stream it here. And let's talk about it!

I enjoyed listening to Tom & Lorenzo talk about that movie in this podcast. Tom was outraged at the Viggo Mortenson character, calling his treatment of his children "child abuse" and said that because the man was inculcating left-wing politics in his children, viewers were not going to be able to detect the badness of his fathering.

That resonates with something I said to Meade immediately after watching the movie (and before listening to Tom & Lorenzo): This movie would be experienced very differently by someone with left-wing politics, someone who actually thought Noam Chomsky was great. Things we found hilarious — and also painful — would read entirely differently. I think this was Tom's problem, but it forced Tom to see that there's something abusive about inculcating children with politics (he just thought the common people needed clearer instruction, which would have been there if the father's politics were right-wing or Christian fundamentalist).

The movie is complicated, hilarious and dramatic. A father is sort of leading his band of 6 children against the world. He's both good and bad. And the grandfather who disapproves — played by Frank Langella — is also good and bad, even though he's in the position that would normally be The Villain. (He's trying to take the children away.) There's a great dinner-table scene where the 6 children try to relate to their cousins, and it's complex to think about. There's some of the feeling Meade and I remember from many movies circa 1970 where the people who reject American society are morally and intellectually better, but that's also challenged as one of the boys yells at his father for making them into "freaks."

And I just want to say: Viggo Mortenson is 58 years old. He looks great. And we got a comprehensive look at him at one point.

It was horrible of that CNN editor to say it's the role of journalists to "aid the afflicted and afflict the comfortable."

Good thing James O'Keefe smoked out that horror (spoken by Richard T. Griffiths, vice president and editorial director at CNN, when he thought he was off microphone).

It was horrible of Griffiths to mangle the great old aphorism, which is usually phrased "The job of the newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable" and which was originally written — in the kind of dialect people don't find too amusing anymore — in the 1902 book "Observations by Mr. Dooley":
“Th' newspaper does ivrything f'r us. It runs th' polis foorce an' th' banks, commands th' milishy, controls th' ligislachure, baptizes th' young, marries th' foolish, comforts th' afflicted, afflicts th' comfortable, buries th' dead an' roasts thim aftherward.”
(Mr. Dooley, an Irish bartender, is the fictional creation of the newspaper humorist Finley Peter Dunne.)

How can Griffiths be a media editor and so lacking of an ear for language? What makes the saying great is the flipping of the 2 words, comfort and afflict.  In the first phrase, comfort is the verb and the noun is formed out of the word afflict. In the second phrase, afflict is the verb and the noun is formed out of the word comfort. That's some beautiful humor, full of meaning and poetry.

Then along comes this lummox Griffiths and he botches the first word, instead of beginning with comfort — the word upon which you're then supposed to cleverly end (in its variation comfortable) — he begins with aid, which never appears again in his clunky non-aphorism.

It's like saying: It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the amount of the fight in the dog.

"What do you think happens to the political sensibilities of young people watching a political discourse like that?'

It's 1992 and Bill Moyers asking his his intellectual panel about the remix video made from George H.W. Bush's "Read my lips: No new taxes." You can watch the video, followed — beginning at 2:11 — by the egg-headed discussion:

I got that over at Reason.com, where Jesse Walker writes:
The publisher of The Hotline replies that the video "debases the process"; the dean of the Annenberg School for Communication calls it an "invitation to cynicism that I think is very unhealthy." And they both go on from there, condemning in advance the entire media landscape of 2017. I'm not sure 1992 has ever felt as distant as it does while I'm watching this.

"We've had the privilege to carry a century of humanity. But maybe what we carry isn’t just people, it's an idea: that while we're not the same, we can be one."

Cadillac's ad (to play during the Oscars):

I got there via "Cadillac Ad Tries to Bridge Nation’s Chasm, Without Falling In," by James B. Stewart (in the NYT), who compares this ad to Audi's Super Bowl ad (which we talked about here). Stewart writes:
Uwe Ellinghaus, chief marketing officer of Global Cadillac, said, “We can have a point of view without adding fuel to any controversial political debate."...  [But] “I didn’t see how we could shy away from the division in the country,” he said. “We didn’t want to enter the political debate. We wanted to transcend it.”

Perhaps it took two non-Americans — Mr. Sadoun is French, Mr. Ellinghaus is German — to suggest that by acknowledging the divide, an ad campaign might actually help heal it. After all, America had been divided before in its history — at times far more than now. (Hence the image of a civil rights demonstration.) The nation had overcome the divisions, moved forward and prospered, the American dream intact.

For many years (though not in recent decades), the Cadillac brand embodied that dream. Perhaps Cadillac’s ad could remind Americans of the nation’s resilience and inherent optimism, and “celebrate what America is capable of,” Mr. Ellinghaus said....

“Cadillac realizes that it needs to connect with buyers emotionally,” Ms. Sewell said. “That’s never been more true than now in the luxury space.” In the ad, Cadillac is identified with “unity, optimism, courage — the great American values,” she said. “I think dealers and customers, too, are hungry to hear something positive like this.”

Leslie Jones is sick of you and your rescue dogs.

From a prominent NYT article about the comedienne's standup act:
During a riff about rescue dogs and self-righteous pet owners who say things like “Did I rescue the dog, or did the dog rescue me?” Ms. Jones spun a wicked fantasy.

“How about both of y’all get caught in a fire, and neither one of y’all get rescued?” she said.
“If I see another 45-year-old white woman from Williamsburg saying ‘black lives matter,’ I’m going to punch you in the mouth,” Ms. Jones said. “Stop doing that.”

When she observes these political protests, Ms. Jones said: “Not one black woman out there. Black woman at home watching ‘Housewives of Atlanta.’”

If 90,000 jump the subway turnstile in NYC every year and 2,000 are arrested for it in one month — is there too much law enforcement or too little.

This article at DNAinfo (linked from a linky page in the NYT) highlights the opinion of a transit authority board member, David Jones, whose objections are 5-fold:

1. Triviality. It's a mere "quality of life problem" that shouldn't preoccupy the police.

2. Poverty. It's a crime people commit because they're insufficiently rich. So it's "like Victor Hugo, 'Les Miserables,' persecuting people for stealing bread." And then the punishment is to collect a fine, but these are "people who have already indicated they don’t have money."

3. Race. Jones either knows or imagines that there is a disparate racial impact: "I’m also worried that if you start to look at the demographics, who’s interfacing with the criminal justice system on this, it’s generally young people, blacks and Latinos."

4. Illegal immigration. It will lead to deportations. "Even before the Trump victory, I would’ve been concerned because I don’t want young people having an interaction with the criminal justice system that doesn’t involve some very serious activity.... Now it’s heightened — we just don’t want to give more ammunition and more reason to deport people who have engaged with us because of poverty."

5. Sneakiness. The NYPD uses plainclothes officers to catch people in the act. Why don't they just have "a big sign there and a policeman under the sign"? Then that turnstile wouldn't be luring impulsive youngsters to leap.

Nicholas Kristof begs Trump-haters to "please don’t practice his trick of 'otherizing' people into stick-figure caricatures, slurring vast groups as hopeless bigots."

"We’re all complicated, and stereotypes are not helpful — including when they’re of Trump supporters."
First, stereotyping a huge slice of America as misogynist bigots is unfair and impairs understanding. Hundreds of thousands of those Trump supporters had voted for Barack Obama. Many are themselves black, Latino or Muslim. Are they all bigots?

Second, demonizing Trump voters feeds the dysfunction of our political system. One can be passionate about one’s cause, and fight for it, without contributing to political paralysis that risks making our country ungovernable.

Tolerance is a liberal value; name-calling isn’t....
 I agree: Tolerance is a liberal value. But that's why an awful lot of those in this country who call themselves liberals ought to be referred to as so-called liberals.

"The new '... nevertheless, she persisted'?"

Writes my son John about the statement "She got exactly what she wanted, which wasn't to speak.... She wanted to cause a scene...."

The statement appears in an L.A. Times article, "A state senator is removed from the chamber for her comments about Tom Hayden and Vietnam":
After trying to make a statement about the late Tom Hayden and his opposition to the Vietnam War, Sen. Janet Nguyen (R-Garden Grove) was removed from the floor of the state Senate on Thursday, a tense scene that ended in a slew of angry accusations from both Republicans and Democrats.

Nguyen, who was brought to the United States as a Vietnamese refugee when she was a child, said she wanted to offer "a different historical perspective" on what Hayden and his opposition to the war had meant to her and other refugees....

In the statement which she later posted on her official Senate website, Nguyen criticized Hayden for siding "with a communist government that enslaved and/or killed millions of Vietnamese, including members of my own family."
A procedural rule was cited as the basis for wanting shut Nguyen up. She was ruled "out of order" for using a "point of personal privilege." Nguyen had refrained from airing her opinion during a remembrance of Hayden that had occurred earlier in the week.

February 23, 2017

A hot new Bloggingheads episode.

I can't figure out how to embed it, so you have to go here.

How bad were Milo’s pedophilia comments? 8:21
Are evangelicals demonized? 5:40
Debating the limits of free speech 18:35
Is the media’s coverage of Trump unprofessional? 7:38
Is Trump anti-Muslim? 7:26
Ann’s “hypothetical Trumps” thought experiment 11:10
How not to oppose to Trump 3:36

ADDED: This might work:

At the Ulmus New Horizon Hotel...


... you can stay up all night.

(And if you're staying up shopping, you know you can shop through The Althouse Amazon Portal.)

The most interesting sentence in George Packer's musing about whether Trump is insane enough to be removed under the procedure set forth in the 25th Amendment.

"The gaudy gold drapery of the East Room contributed to the impression that at any moment Trump might declare himself President for Life, and a flunky would appear from behind the curtain to pin the Medal of National Greatness on his suit jacket, while, backstage, officials and generals discussed his overthrow."

So let me get this straight — who's crazy?